In 137 years of record keeping, there has been no year hotter than 2016, confirms an international report, based on data compiled by more than 450 scientists from nearly 60 countries. This is the third consecutive year of record heat, as 2016 beat 2015 for the infamous title, which topped 2014.
The new report confirmed not just the highest average temperatures, but also other eerie indicators of a new global climate reality:
It was also one of the worst years for droughts, cyclones and heat waves.
Scientifically, the urgency of taking action on climate change has never been clearer. Politically… it’s a bit of a mixed bag.
As President Trump decided to pull America out of the Paris Climate Agreement, many of the world’s other largest greenhouse gas emitters, including China, India and the European Union, reiterated their commitment to strong action on climate change. And as we’ve covered in a previous blog post, American companies, organizations, cities and states vowed to be leaders in reducing emissions, even if the U.S. formally would not.
Market indicators highlight the opportunity for a clean energy future, as electric cars are poised for rapid growth and experts estimate solar could soon be cheaper than coal in most parts of the world. Countries around the globe are eager to take advantage of these developments.
But the latest climate study serves as a grave reminder that we can’t afford to just wait and see how these technological transitions play out. To increase our chances of avoiding climatic tipping points and the emergence of negative feedback loops, we need to act boldly, decisively and intelligently to rebuild our energy system around zero-carbon technologies.